Delta police are investigating a series of incidents in Sunshine Hills involving fake Craigslist postings.
So far there have been nine reported incidents of homes being the target of ads on the classifieds website inviting people to attend house parties or collect free items, and in some cases offering respondents intimate encounters.
One home in particular was targeted three times in July. On the first occasion, an ad titled “Looking for a Cuddle Buddy” was posted that asked for a male suitor to come to a home in North Delta. At least two men responded to the ad and texted with someone purporting to be a 27-year-old blond woman looking for a sexual encounter who directed them to a home in Sunshine Hills.
The daughter of the residents, who is four-and-a-half months pregnant and asked not to be named, was home alone at the time. One of the men walked into the home through the unsecured front door, as directed by the person who posted the ad, startling the young woman.
“I had left the door open because this is a safe neighbourhood and one of my good friends was coming over to bring me smoothie because I had been very ill,” the woman told the Reporter. “My dog started freaking out a the front door — he’s a very friendly animal, he doesn’t normally act aggressive or anything — and there was this strange man standing inside my house.
“He said, ‘I’m here to cuddle, I’m your cuddle buddy.’ … I looked at him and I point to myself and I said, ‘I’m four-and-a-half months pregnant. I don’t even let my partner touch me right now.’”
The woman convinced the man to leave and contacted Delta Police.
“He ended up being a very nice person, very apologetic. He email-forwarded me the thread of messages between him and the Craigslist ad person, and that’s how I was able to get a picture and the information with my address.”
Before they arrived a second man appeared at the house, demanding to be let in. He refused to leave, repeatedly trying to open the now-locked door. He was still there when police arrived. In total five men came to the door that day, with several others stopped by police while still in their cars.
“Two days following that there were still cars driving around the house, stopping and pointing, with men in them,” the woman said.
The second incident at the house happened a few weeks later, as the residents were hosting a family birthday party with about a dozen children in attendance. Once again, a fake posting appeared on Craiglist advertising an open party and featuring a photo of two attractive young women. As before, respondents were told to just walk right in.
One man walked into the party, beer in tow, and mingled with guests until the residents were alerted and asked the man to leave. As he did he flagged the ad on Craiglist and it was subsequently removed from the site. Delta Police were once again notified.
However, less than an hour later a new ad appeared offering a free Samsung smart phone at the same address, prompting more unwelcome visitors and a third callout by DPD officers.
“It’s a really safe neighbourhood so people do tend to leave their doors unlocked, and that is a huge thing … that in these ads the person, when talking back and forth with people who act interested, always says just walk on in,” the woman said.
Delta Police are investigating these and other incidents in the area in an effort to identify, locate and secure charges against the person or persons responsible for posting the fake ads.
“It is concerning, because someone is being directed to go to somebody’s residence and just walk in. Fortunately there haven’t been any mishaps, but it’s concerning none the less,” said DPD pubic affairs coordinator Sharlene Brooks.
“We’re treating this seriously, and do want to make the citizens aware that this is happening, so that they can take some appropriate steps to protect themselves, which can be as simple as keeping their doors locked even when they’re at home.”